New translation specialist improves Extension’s outreach to multilingual communities

URBANA, Ill. – For more than 100 years, University of Illinois Extension has translated on-campus research into practical tools and information to help communities across the state solve problems. Now, that power of translation will give multilingual communities in Illinois full access to Extension resources.

Illinois Extension recently welcomed Monique Rivera to its marketing and communications team as a Translation Specialist. Rivera will serve as Extension’s first full-time Spanish translator managing multilingual projects that will improve access to Extension network of experts, programs, and resources.

In response to the multilingual needs across the state and Extension’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusivity Extension leaders identified a clear need to provide resources in other languages says Bridget Lee-Calfas, Extension’s Director of Marketing and Communications.

“We’re thrilled to welcome to Monique to the team and excited to expand Extension’s ability to connect with diverse audiences,” Lee-Calfas says. “She joins a growing number of multilingual Extension staff across the state and her substantial experience in translation services, relationship building, and public engagement will be essential assets as we continue to more inclusively better the lives of all Illinois residents. Monique’s portfolio will include English-Spanish translation services, the coordination of other language translation services needed throughout the state, and cultural insights and community connections.”

Rivera comes to Extension with 25 years of experience in language translation, instruction, administration, and event planning. A native Spanish speaker, Rivera has a BA in Spanish Language from Florida State University and a Master of Library and Information Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

In 2006, she joined UIUC as the senior program coordinator in the Office for Access and Equity, while later serving as co-director of engagement, academic engagement liaison, and co-leader of anti-racism and anti-oppression efforts at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. 

“I look forward to applying my translation skills sets, cultural insight, and lived experiences to guide and enhance the ways Illinois Extension staff engage with multilingual communities in Illinois,” Rivera says. “I want to build trust and deeper relationships through this role.”

She plans to improve access to Extension’s programs in ways that honor and respect diverse cultural traditions while also meeting unique local needs. Part of her work will include expanding the organization’s language resources by cultivating campus and community relationships to build a network of partners that further support Extension’s mission.

Rivera is based in the Extension marketing and communications office in Urbana-Champaign. She can be reached at merivera@illinois.edu or (217) 244-2044.

University of Illinois Extension educators and specialists connect every county in Illinois with university research through in-person and distance-learning programming and other educational outreach. They work to provide businesses, families, and agricultural producers with the practical tools and resources needed to solve problems.

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions.